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Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine

Our priority is to protect our Service members, Department of Defense (DOD) civilians and families to safeguard national security capabilities and support the whole-of-government response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The DoD has an independent but collaborative program with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) to provide COVID-19 vaccines to DOD uniformed service members. This includes active duty, Guard/Reserve, retirees, family members, civilian employees and selected DoD contract personnel. 

Effective April 19, 2021 all eligible and authorized TRICARE beneficiaries can make a COVID-19 vaccine appointment, as available, at a DOD vaccination site. Getting the vaccine is voluntary, but all DoD personnel are encouraged to get it to protect their health, their families and their community.

Where to Get the COVID-19 Vaccine

The availability of the vaccine may vary by location. To find a vaccine location near you, please visit www.tricare.mil/VaccineAppointments.

The vaccine itself is offered at no cost, but there may be a cost based on your plan for an office visit or if you require follow-on care. Wherever you eventually receive your vaccination, please remember you'll need to check availability before showing up.

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions and answers about the COVID-19 Vaccination Efforts

Q1:

Is the COVID-19 Vaccine Safe?

A:

Yes. COVID-19 vaccines being used in the U.S. have met the FDA's rigorous health standards for safety and effectiveness and have been rigorously tested amongst all populations. Millions of Americans have already received the COVID-19 vaccines without experiencing any serious side effects, and all COVID-19 vaccines will continue to be intensely monitored for safety.

Q2:

Where should I be vaccinated?

A:

To the greatest extent possible, beneficiaries in priority groups who are enrolled at Military Treatment Facilities (MTF) should come to the MTF to be vaccinated. This will ensure the maximum number of vaccine opportunities allocated to jurisdictions other than DoD are available for the non-DoD population. TRICARE beneficiaries who receive care at DoD MTFs on a space-available basis can alternately receive vaccine through the local civilian jurisdiction.

Q3:

How long will protection last following vaccination?

A:

We don’t know how long protection will last following vaccination but it will be critically important to measure long-term protection (at least two years) in the phase 3 trials and in other groups prioritized for early vaccination. We are still learning about the duration of protection following infection with COVID-19 and it is too early to tell how long protection will last.

Q4:

Can someone get COVID-19 from the vaccine?

A:

No, it’s not possible to get COVID-19 from vaccines. Vaccines against COVID-19 use inactivated virus, parts of the virus, or a gene from the virus. None of these can cause COVID-19.

Q5:

Should I get the vaccine for influenza (flu shot)?

A:

Yes, it is very important to get the influenza vaccine, particularly this season when both influenza viruses and COVID-19 will infect people.

Q6:

Are COVID-19 vaccines effective? Do they work?

A:

Yes. In clinical trials, authorized vaccines were nearly 100% effective in preventing hospitalization and deaths from COVID-19.

Q7:

I am worried these vaccines were developed too fast. Were corners cut?

A:

More than twenty years of research and study led to the development of our safe and highly effective vaccines that are already protecting millions of people deadly COVID-19 virus that has claimed the lives of nearly 600,000 Americans. Tens of thousands of volunteers participated in clinical trials that enabled rapid accumulation of data on safety and effectiveness. This is more participants than any vaccine trial before.

Q8:

Are there side effects

A:

Side effects such as chills or tiredness may affect your ability to do daily activities, and will go away in a few days. These side effects after vaccination are normal as they are signs that your body is building protection.

Q9:

If I’ve already recovered from COVID-19 infection, do I need to be vaccinated?

A:

Yes, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19. A COVID-19 vaccine will protect you from being infected again, which is possible—although rare—if you are unvaccinated.

Q10:

What is an Emergency Use Authorization?

A:

Drugs and vaccines have to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ensure that only safe and effective products are available to the American public. During public health emergencies, when there is good scientific reason to believe that a product is safe and is likely to treat or prevent disease, the FDA may authorize its use through an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), even if definitive proof of the effectiveness of the drug or vaccine is not known.

FDA pre-licensure approval is considered for treatment or prevention of diseases that are very serious.

Q11:

What kind of information will be available to me before I receive the vaccine?

A:

Each potential recipient of COVID-19 vaccine will receive a vaccine-specific Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) Fact Sheet for Recipients from the FDA, which will provide the following information:

  • Basic information on COVID-19, symptoms, and what to discuss with a health care provider before vaccination
  • Who should and should not receive the vaccine
  • That recipients have the choice to receive the vaccine
  • Dosage and vaccine series information
  • Risks and benefits of the vaccine
  • An explanation of what an EUA is and why it is issued
  • Any approved available alternatives for preventing COVID-19
  • Additional resources
Q12:

How will I be able to keep track of what vaccine I got and when I need to get a second dose?

A:

All vaccine recipients will be provided a copy of the CDC COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card after receipt of the vaccine. It is recommended that the second-dose appointment be made at the time of initial vaccinations, or instructions provided on procedures for second dose follow-up. If a vaccine recipient has a smartphone, it is recommended that they take a photo of the vaccination record card as a back-up copy and set a calendar reminder for receipt of the second dose.

Q13:

Will the DoD provide vaccines for civilian employees and contractor staff working in military hospitals or clinics?

A:

The DoD will offer vaccine to civilian and contractor staff with direct patient care and to those who normally receive vaccine for occupational health purposes, as authorized in accordance with DoD regulation.

Q14:

Will DoD require all service members to receive the vaccine?

A:

No. The vaccine will be offered on a voluntary basis. Priority populations are highly encouraged to receive the vaccine. When formally licensed by the FDA, a vaccine may become mandatory for military personnel, as is the case for the influenza vaccine.

Q15:

Why should we receive the first-available vaccine when there are several other vaccines still in trials?

A:

People who are offered the first-available vaccine are considered to be in groups that are most in need of COVID-19 protection. Vaccinated people will be protecting themselves, as well as their families and all people with whom they interact. Evaluation of the first-available vaccine will continue, even after its pre-licensure release. The release of other vaccines cannot be fully predicted, so people who are offered the first-available vaccine will be encouraged to receive this vaccine.

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